When a hard drive is clicking, something is usually wrong with its insides. Normally, your hard drive clicks just once when you turn it on. This click comes from the read/write heads as they lift off of their ramps and position themselves over the drive’s hard disk platters. From that point, the read/write heads find your hard drive’s firmware. Once they’ve successfully read the firmware, the heads can read all the rest of the data on your drive. But if they can’t read the firmware, the heads retreat back to the ramp. Then they try again. And again. And again. They don’t stop trying until you power off the drive. This produces the rhythmic “Click of Death”.
When your hard drive suffers a mechanical failure, you only have one option if you want to get any data back. You must bring it to a professional data recovery company. Do-it-yourself instructional videos on how to open up and “fix” hard drives and urban legends like the “freezer trick” may sound enticing. But don’t be lured by their siren songs. The innards of a hard drive can only be reliably repaired by professional hard drive repair specialists.
Furthermore, physical failure can also result in damage to a hard drive’s firmware. Hard drive firmware can only be accessed and repaired by highly-skilled and well-trained data recovery experts with special tools. Hard drive manufacturers play their cards close to their chests when it comes to hard drive firmware. There’s very little in the way of documentation for firmware, how it’s supposed to work, what corruption looks like, etc. Anyone who knows anything about hard drive firmware either designs it for a living or has years of experience and training in a data recovery lab.
Drive Model: Toshiba MK6476GSX
Drive Capacity: 640 GB
Operating System: Windows
Situation: Toshiba hard drive clicking
Type of Data Recovered: Photos and documents
Binary Read: 22.2%
Gillware Data Recovery Case Rating: 9
When you hear the “Click of Death”, it’s usually a sign that the read/write heads can no longer read data. They could have gone blind or become severely damaged or mangled. Another, less likely possibility is that the heads are, if not healthy, then at least clinging to life. But the heads can’t make sense of some portion of the firmware, causing them to pull back and try again.
This was the situation the client was facing. The read/write heads hadn’t died yet, although their performance had degraded. A portion of the client’s Toshiba hard drive’s firmware, though, had become corrupted. While it performs all of its tasks in the shadows, and the vast majority of users won’t even give it a second thought, hard drive firmware is the most important piece of data on your hard drive’s platters.
We describe hard drive firmware as sort of like a hard drive’s “operating system”. Just as your computer’s operating system acts as the go-between between you, your hard drive, and your computer’s other components, your hard drive’s firmware acts as the go-between between you and the data on your hard drive’s platters. If the firmware goes bad, your hard drive can’t do anything. It just sits there like a lump (and might start clicking).
Hard drive firmware is fairly resilient, especially since the tools and expertise needed to access and repair it if something goes wrong can only be found on the manufacturer’s factory floor or in a professional data recovery lab. But despite its resilience, there are still vulnerable parts of the firmware that can develop glitches or bugs.
In this data recovery case, the client had a laptop that would not boot up. When they turned their computer on, their laptop would simply spit a boot error message at their face. They removed the Toshiba hard drive from their computer and heard the hard drive clicking. The client needed data recovered from their computer, and knew that clicking hard drives must be handled by data recovery professionals. And so they sent the drive over to the Toshiba HDD recovery specialists here at Gillware.
After fixing the firmware bug that had made this Toshiba hard drive start clicking, our data recovery experts could begin recovering data from the device. With the assistance of our fault-tolerant data recovery tools, our engineers could read data from the Toshiba hard drive without needing to replace any of its parts. Our engineers fully recovered 99.7% of the user’s files in total, with no file corruption affecting any of their most important photos and documents. We rated this Toshiba HDD recovery case a 9 on our ten-point case rating scale.